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TOEFL Exam Overview

What is TOEFL Exam? A Quick Overview

The TOEFL, or Test of English as a Foreign Language, is perhaps the most widely accepted test to demonstrate English proficiency. This remarkable test was designed by the ETS, a non-profit organization in the United States. Apart from the IELTS, it is one of the two primary tests for evaluating English language proficiency.

This test is devised specifically for individuals whose mother tongue is not English but who aim to study at an English-speaking university or undertake a program taught in English. This is mainly because most schools and universities require non-native English speakers to present concrete proof in their application that their English language skills will be adequate to take part in the coursework successfully.

It is a standardized exam for American English spoken mainly in the US and Canada and is a tad bit different from British English. Nevertheless, TOEFL exam scores are also recognized in various countries, mainly using British English, like the UK, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, and others.

Earlier, there used to be two kinds of TOEFL exams – TOEFL iBT and TOEFL PBT. TOEFL iBT is a computer-generated exam that is conducted in online mode. On the other hand, TOEFL BTD was a paper-based exam conducted in areas where the internet was unavailable. However, from 11th April 2021 onwards, ETS has discontinued TOEFL PBT.

TOEFL Exam: What's the Purpose and Importance?

The scores of the TOEFL iBT exam are accepted by more than 11,500 universities around the world. It is also required by higher educational institutes in more than 160 countries, with the inclusion of Canada, Australia, the UK, the US, New Zealand, and all across Asia and Europe.

Apart from these, the TOEFL iBT exam offers various advantages –

  1. It is the world’s premier English-language exam for work, study, and immigration.
  2. According to a study, among universities and colleges accepting TOEFL as well as other English exam scores, 80% tend to opt for the TOEFL score over the letter. This is primarily because TOEFL examines all of the reading, writing, listening, and speaking abilities of an individual; the scores are believed to be the accurate estimate of an individual's proficiency in English.
  3. It enables you to get noticed by admission officers as the test evaluates academic English skills and exactly how they are used in the classroom.
  4. You arrive on campus more prepared than others, being well-versed in the fact that fair and unbiased TOEFL scores will represent your capabilities.
  5. The score on TOEFL is valid for 2 years. This implies that applicants can apply with the same score for 2 years after taking the test.
  6. If you're aiming to apply for a business visa and a PR application, a TOEFL score is accepted as an English proficiency certificate for all visa applications for New Zealand and Australia. When you have a valid TOEFL score of 79 or more, you can support your skilled migrant Visa application.
  7. These scores also offer an upper edge over others while allowing the grabbing of remarkable internship opportunities offered by top companies.
  8. Further, the test has incorporated countless enhancements that offer a remarkable test experience. These are shorter tests, an upgraded registration site, a full-length practice test for free, faster reporting of scores, extended TOEFL online registration, the user-friendly TOEFL iBT official app, and the like.

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What is the Structure and Format of the TOEFL Exam?

Comprehending the structure and format of the TOEFL exam is incredibly crucial as it enables you to manage your time efficiently and prepare for the exam successfully. Let's now take a close look at the structure and format of the TOEFL iBT exam given below in a tabular format –




Number of Question




60-80 mins

36-56 Questions

Go through 3-4 passages and answer questions effectively.



60-90 mins

34-51 Questions

Listen to 4-6 questions and 2-3 conversations, then answer questions.



10 mins





20 mins

6 Tasks

Answer prompts about familiar topics, academic course content, and campus scenarios.



50  mins

2 Tasks

Present a comparison of a lecture and a passage. Write in detail about your opinion.



4 Hours Approximately



Clear till now? Well, alright then! Let's look at each of the major sections of the TOEFL exam in detail.

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Reading Section on the TOEFL Exam: What Does it Include?

The Reading section on the TOEFL exam is devised to evaluate the reading and comprehension ability of a candidate. It also evaluates how an applicant reacts to complicated sentence structures, challenging vocabulary, the motive and mood of the author, different narration styles, unfamiliar content, and a host of other remarkable aspects.

This section incorporates 3-4 reading passages taken from university-level textbooks. Each of these passages is 700 words and comprises 10 questions per paragraph. The questions can ask you to define a word, figure out an argument, or find a false statement. Further, these passages cover different disciplines – historical, scientific, philosophical, etc.

It is not significant to have in-depth knowledge of the subject or topic. The information required to answer the questions is incorporated into the texts itself. But, the texts are generally complicated with a vocabulary that's not easy to comprehend. So, you need to become well-versed with unfamiliar words and long reading passages.

The reading segment has a specific set of three formats on which the questions are based. These are –

  1. Traditional multiple-choice questions have four choices and a single correct answer.
  2. Sentence-insertion questions in a multiple-choice format. Here, the test-taker needs to select the best phrase from the four choices that suit the sentence.
  3. Questions that have more than four options and multiple correct answers. One question of this kind appears in each passage.

You will get 54-72 minutes approximately to answer all the questions.

Listening Section on the TOEFL Exam: What Does it Include?

The goal of the Listening section of the TOEFL is to assess how the applicant comprehends spoken English. This segment specifically enables the evaluator to determine how one will react in an academic environment where lectures and conversations include a wide range of information, complicated sentence structures, the intentions of speakers, and the like.

It also evaluates one’s capacities to establish connections between various topics, draw effective conclusions, and assess the attitude and mood of the speaker. Due to correct changes in the TOEFL exam format, the lecture numbers have been reduced from 4-6 to 3-4.

The first part of this section incorporates three to four lectures. Each of them is 3-5 minutes long. The applicant is required to answer 6 questions per lecture. The second section comprises 2-3 conversations between 2 speakers. Each of them is 3 minutes long.

The questions can ask you about the contents of the recording. Remember, you will not be able to hear the audio repeatedly, which adds to its complexity. However, your test center administrator will allow you to make notes while listening to the audio section. You will be provided with 41 to 57 minutes approximately to complete the section.

Speaking Section on the TOEFL Exam: What Does it Include?

The Speaking section on the IELTS enables evaluators to assess an applicant’s fluency in the English language. It is perhaps the most challenging section of the whole exam as it demands quick thinking, thorough analysis of ideas, and giving replies accordingly. This segment aims to evaluate whether a person is comfortable with speaking and comprehension class-level as well as in real-life conversations. Further, it also assesses whether they can convey their opinions, participate in dialogues, and give prompt replies.

This segment comprises four tasks which are a remarkable blend of integrated speaking and independent speaking. An applicant will need to speak from their personal experience, assert opinions, and make concrete arguments. He/she is given 15-30 seconds to prepare for every response.

The predefined question formats are enlisted below as follows –

  1. Independent speaking tasks require the speaker to speak about their ideas, opinions, and experience. These are mainly introductory questions that aim to know how a person tends to introduce themselves, their attitude, style of speaking, and more.
  2. Integrated speaking tasks differ hugely from the above tasks as they are a perfect blend of two or more English skills like listening and reading. The tasks can be based on a campus scenario or an academic course.

Writing Section on the TOEFL Exam: What Does it Include?

The capacity to write error-free, accurate, stellar, and coherent passages is evaluated in this section of the TOEFL exam. Generally, in an academic environment, you must summarise, make notes, and write essays and papers based on a topic. This remarkable section evaluates the skills of idea phrasing, creating relationships between information bits, making a comparison of perceptions, and developing arguments and conclusions.

The two kinds of tasks that appear in this section have been enlisted below in detail –

Integrated Writing Task

In this part of the exam, applicants require 20 minutes of recording and go through a 230-300 word passage diligently. Based on the comprehension of both, they need to write about how they relate to each other. You will be allowed to take notes. Also, there is no correct or incorrect answer. The suggested word limit is 150-225 words. However, you can write as much as you desire as there is no penalty.

Independent  Writing Task

This is mainly an experience-based essay. Here, a topic or an issue is given on which the applicant needs to express their opinions in a minimum of 300 words. Here, assessors aim to gauge skills of grammar, writing in an organized way, ability to support a claim with evidence, detailing, construction of sentences, conclusion, and the like.

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How is the TOEFL Exam Scored?

The key objective of the TOEFL exam is to evaluate your core English language communication skills. To evaluate these critical skill areas, the test is structured into four segments – Reading, Speaking, Listening, and Writing. Each of these skill segments is scored on a TOEFL range of 0-30. This adds up to a TOEFL score of 0-120. That implies the maximum TOEFL score you can receive is 120.

The TOEFL exam is scored through a remarkable combination of automated AI Scoring and expert human rates. However, the reading and listening segments are scored only by the computer. The methodology of its scoring system is engineered to ensure a high level of accuracy, demonstrating the accurate picture of your English language abilities.

According to the ETS, the proficiency level corresponding to the TOEFL score range for every section could be best comprehended through the table –


Proficiency Level


Advanced (24-30)

High-Intermediate (18-23)

Low-Intermediate (4-17)

Below Low-Intermediate (0-3)


Advanced (22-30)

High-Intermediate (17-21)

Low-Intermediate (9-16)

Below Low-Intermediate (0-8)


Advanced (25-30)

High-Intermediate (20-24)

Low-Intermediate (16-19)

Basic (10-15)

Below Basic (0-9)


Advanced (24-30)

High-Intermediate (17-23)

Low-Intermediate (13-16)

Basic (7-12)

Below Basic (0-6)

How to Gain Success on the TOEFL Exam: Exceptional Tips and Strategies

Given the significance of the TOEFL exam to those who aim to study abroad, it is undeniably a daunting prospect. However, it doesn’t need to be as scary as you imagine it to be. Similar to every task, preparing correctly and becoming well-acquainted with the process will enable you to dispel any nerves.

Have a look at certain foolproof hacks and strategies that will help you become prepared and stay ready to give your absolute best–

Know the TOEFL Test Format

Regardless of how outstanding your English is, it is still completely possible to be thrown off by the exam format. Ensure to invest adequate time on the TOEFL site to become well-versed with the way the exam works and to find out any information you need. Try not to rush, take enough time to study the pattern carefully, and know the syllabus and marking scheme.

When you become well-versed in the layout of the exam effectively, you will stay prepared remarkably and know better what to expect on exam day.

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Set a TOEFL Score to Achieve

Setting a TOEFL score you desire to achieve is of utmost importance. This is mainly because if you have a certain target to accomplish, you can determine your strong and weak points effectively. You can also curate the perfect TOEFL preparation strategy accordingly. Ensure to decide upon a target score that caters to the requirements of the academic institutions you are applying to.

Choose an Excellent Study Guide

Another excellent strategy for preparing for the exam is to get your hands on an outstanding study guide. A remarkable TOEFL book will highlight all the sections, offer sound advice, provide remarkable strategy pointers, and walk you through effective practice questions and example answers.

There exists a diverse range of good TOEFL resources as well as not-so-good-ones. Try to take your pick by carefully reviewing them and determining whether they will enable you to prepare well.

Undertake Practice Tests

When preparing for the TOEFL test, you are probably always aiming for a specific score. In the course of your TOEFL preparation period, it is only by undertaking TOEFL practice tests you can know whether you are nearing your objective.

These will enable you to comprehend your weaker areas and where you require more improvements. You will also be able to comprehend the difficulty level of the exams as well. Additionally, when you take tests regularly, you can keep track of your progress occasionally.

Listen and Read English Outside the Realms of TOEFL

Not all your TOEFL preparation requires being TOEFL-specific. After all, this is an exam that gauges your real-world English and not just the accuracy of grammar. Hence, when you expose yourself to everyday English, you will do a lot of 'passive learning'.
Try going through novels or comic books, watching YouTube videos, binge-watching Netflix shows, and even listening to songs. This will not only provide you with entertainment, but you will get to learn greatly too.

Practice Timed Writing

The TOEFL writing segment includes English essays that require a clear and remarkable presentation of ideas. To accomplish that skill, you need to demonstrate thoughtful practice. Also, be sure to study a variety of essays to master the ways effective essays are composed.

To start your practice, list general topics on education, technology, family, social media, etc. Remember to time yourself when you write. This will help you comprehend the difference between your time and the ideal time to write an essay. In this way, you can pace yourself accordingly and upgrade your skills with every essay you craft.

Master Note Taking

You will get one opportunity to listen to every audio clip before answering questions in the exam. You will have to take notes when the clip plays to remember what was said. However, only a few people can write at the speed of a lecture; thus, becoming a brilliant note-taker is the key.

You can begin by listening to audio clips on YouTube or any other platform. Try practicing taking down the major information and ensuring you still can comprehend the clip at large. When you have completed listening, you can use these notes to recreate the clip or story. As you practice more, try to increase your level of difficulty and see how you perform.

Know How to Touch Type

The writing segment of the TOEFL demands you to type answers on an unknown computer with a QWERTY keyboard. Now, if you spend all your time striving with the keyboard, you will not have much time to write a stellar essay.

Hence, it is essential to make sure you can type rapidly in English on a Qwerty keyboard perfectly before the date of the exam. You can also make use of ample free online tools that can help you learn touch typing effectively.

Now that you know the strategies to get high scores on the TOEFL exam, get the most out of them by implementing them from the very beginning of your preparation phase. is one of the most eminent educational consultancies in the world. We not only assist with admission and application but also aid in coaching for standardized exams. We have expert faculty who can help you ace your GRE, SAT, GMAT, ACT, IELTS, TOEFL, and PTE. We also offer supreme quality test materials, a rich database, practice questions, and mock tests. Get in touch with us to turn your dream into a reality today!

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Frequently Asked Questions By Students

The TOEFL, or Test of English as a Foreign Language, denotes a standardized test that evaluates the test-taker's mastery of the English Language. The scores of TOEFL are mainly used by universities as part of the admission process. Undertaking TOEFL is vital because –

  1. Before a university accepts you into an academic program, the admissions board desires to know that you can tackle the course load of an English-based program. They use the scores of TOEFL as a standardized metric for your English skills.
  2. The scores of TOEFL enable students to get an upper edge over others while helping them grab remarkable internship opportunities offered by top companies.
  3. It also enables you to get priority with renowned schools in the United States and Canada.

The TOEFL structure pattern is devised by ETS, considering its objective of effectively assessing the test taker’s fluency and command of the English language. It aims to evaluate the test taker's strengths and weaknesses in the 4 core areas of the English language – Reading, Listening, Speaking, and Writing. The overall TOEFL score range is 0 to 120, and the range of scores for each segment is 0 to 30.

The widely-accepted TOEFL exam evaluates all four academic skills – listening, reading, speaking, and writing – exactly the way they are used in the classroom. The language used in the exam closely mirrors how English is used in everyday academic settings. The test also comprises 100% academic content with remarkable integrated tasks.

The TOEFL exam comprises four sections – Speaking, Reading. Listening and Writing. For each of these segments, you get a score from 0-30. This implies your total TOEFL score will be from 0-120. You will get one or more points, based on the kind of question, for every question you answer accurately.

An average TOEFL score is around 90. This may vary hugely from 85 to 95. Anything above 100 is believed to be a good TOEFL score.

  1. Become well-versed in the format of the TOEFL exam
  2. Choose a good study guide
  3. Use high-quality resources
  4. Establish a remarkable study routine
  5. Read and listen to English outside the TOEFL
  6. Practice speaking (even to yourself)
  7. Practice timed writing
  8. Practice note-taking
  9. Enhance your vocabulary
  10. Make a game of it

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